US stocks opened sharply higher on Thursday, with S&P 500 Index gaining 13.19 points, or 1.18 percent, to trade at 1,192.55 at 09:50 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 122.79 points, or 1.12 percent, to trade at 11,130.67. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 1.29 percent to trade at 2,508.13.

GM shares opened almost 9 percent higher to $35.95 as of 9:40 a.m. in its first trading day on the NYSE after recovering from a government funded bailout.

Hopes of an early solution to Ireland's debt woes also weighed on the sentiment.

On the economic front, the US Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 439,000. Economists expected the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for benefits to have increased to 442,000 from 435,000.

Shares of Cardinal Health surged 4.3 percent to $35.97 in early trade after it agreed to buy drug distributor Kinray Inc. for $1.3 billion in cash to expand its presence in community pharmacy.

Shares of Humana fell 5.5 percent in early trade after the health and supplemental benefits company forecasted lower profit for 2011, reflecting near-term challenges.

Sears Holdings Corp., owner of Kmart discount chain, reported a wider-than-expected third-quarter loss. Its shares are down 5 percent in early trade.

On the currency front, the euro gained 0.75 percent to 1.3632 against the dollar while the greenback rose 0.12 percent against the yen.

Crude oil futures gained 1.60 percent to $84.61/barrel while gold futures rose 1.27 percent.

European stock markets are currently trading higher with U.K. FTSE 100 up by 73.04 points, German DAX30 up by 93.54 points and French CAC 40 higher by 57.57 points.